Hundreds of years before it became a confectionary bar, chocolate was a popular savory drink. Legend has it that Aztec emperor Montezuma flavored it with orange and chilies and used it like a pre-cursor to Red Bull, consuming up to 50 cups a day for its energizing effects.
On the Tour De Haut Chocolate tour at The Chocolate Box, your tour guide, Larry, will entertain you with fascinating tidbits such as these, ranging from Aztec lore to the chemistry of chocolate.
The tour starts at The Chocolate Box in downtown Seattle, where you’ll sip the house drinking chocolate while learning the origins of chocolate and the key difference between hot chocolate and drinking chocolate: where hot chocolate is a highly processed, brown powdered mix, often including desiccated marshmallows, drinking chocolate transforms the beverage by using melted-down chocolate bars. The method preserves the natural fat in the cocoa butter, which carries much of the flavor and richness of the chocolate.
Next, you’ll board the “chocolate van” and travel to the sites of Seattle’s best drinking chocolate. Stops include Theo Chocolate, for their savory Chipotle Spice variety (also with orange, in homage to Montezuma); Chocolate Vitale, for a sample of three single-origin drinking chocolates; and Fran’s Chocolates, for their Venezuelan-origin, dark-chocolate version.
Larry provides tasting notes throughout, explaining that the chocolate spectrum ranges from astringent on one end to earthy on the other. He points out flavors like the fruit in the Fran’s Venezuelan drinking chocolate, calling it the “merlot” of chocolate.
Along with Larry, the chocolatiers at each stop will educate you about their particular chocolate varieties and techniques. You’ll learn, for example, that the owner at Chocolate Vitale models her drinking chocolate after the famous drinking chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris and that President Obama has a penchant for the salted caramels at Fran’s.
It’s fun to learn about drinking chocolate, and it’s even more fun to drink the chocolate while learning about it. One important educational point: most of the chocolate you’ll drink on the tour is 70 percent cacao or higher, which makes it technically a health food.
Tours available ever Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 4pm-6:30pm. The Chocolate Box, 106 Pine St.; tour hotline 206.427.2515; sschocolatebox.com
p.s. Seattle chocophiles, don’t miss our February issue, The Local Field Guide to Chocolate. We also feature drinking chocolates and more Seattle chocolate tours, spotlight Seattle's supreme chocolate makers and show you how to achieve "Chocolate Nirvana." Of course, there's also a direct guide on where to find the sweetest deals in town on gourmet truffles, as well as artisinal lollipops, caramels and candies. It's the ultimate bucket list for a grown-up sweet tooth.
Issue available on newsstands starting this week. Download our issues easily for your iPad or Kindle when you subscribe digitally.